Monday 8 April 2013

An interview with Joleene Naylor

I have been lucky enough to interview Joleene Naylor; author of the Amaranthine series and a wonderful artist in her own right. Despite her heavy workload, Joleene always finds time to help other authors and is a regular contributor to the Ink-Slingers-League


1.      You write about (mainly) vampires. Have you ever considered a different subject?
I actually used to write about lots of other things. (Right now you can still read some non-vampire stuff on my website – – in the Short Stories section, though it’s going away after the site redo). But after I fell into the Amaranthine series everything else has gone by the wayside. Fans don’t care how much literary depth a writer has, they just want to read about their favourite characters, and since I don’t have time to maintain two universes, I stick to the one.

2.      What is it about vampires that you find so compelling? You can be honest.
Immortality. If someone walked up to me right now and said “I can make you live forever, you’d never be sick again, never grow old, never die, and you can make your friends and family immortal too, how about it?” I’d be on that so fast their head would spin. Besides that, vampires are cool and from a literary standpoint there’s a lot of flexibility. I can write very modern characters, or very old fashioned characters, or gothic, or steam punk or even mystical, magical characters. I can write a romance, a thriller, a horror story or a piece of literary fiction and, and so long as I give those characters fangs it all falls under the vampire umbrella.
3.      Your cover art is excellent. Without naming the software package, how do you begin your work? With a pencil, or sketch them on the screen and simply work them up?
It depends on which cover. If it’s one with artwork – like the covers I am still using for my paperbacks – then I use my handy dandy .3 mechanical pencil and draw it out on printer paper. I go through a lot of paper until it’s just right. Then I scan it as a black and white document and if it’s going to keep the black lines I usually just colour it in on the computer, but if it’s not going to have the black outlines, then I’ll do a vector layer over it. If it’s a photo image, or a digital paint, then I often just start it out on the computer, and sometimes I use my own photos as bases, such as on my new ebook covers.

4.      Okay; you can name you favourite software package. Which one do you like and have you tried many others?
I’m a Paint Shop Pro fan. I’ve been using it since 2000, back when Jasc still owned them, and have refused to give them up, even though Corel has turned it into a photo editor vs an art program (luckily all the old Jasc features are still there).  I have actually used GIMP and Photoshop (I even own Photoshop) but I can do the same things ten times faster in PSP than I can in either of those, so I figure why switch? Someday I will have to learn Photoshop, I imagine…

5.      If financial matters came to a head and you could only write, or paint covers; what would be your decision and why?
Sadly, I make more money at covers. A lot more. A lot, lot more. That’s why I only get one or two books out a year; because the covers have to come first most of the time. The way I will finally get a book done is by telling hubby “I need x time off” and we budget in a belt tightening session and I dramatically reduce the covers I do (or do none at all) during my pre-arranged time, which of course is never enough to get the book done, anyway, LOL! But I get a good sized chunk done that way, at least. Writing, sadly, has to just fall in the cracks when I can either fit it in or afford it.

6.      Are there any other completed novels which you have considered too bad to publish, and would you consider resurrecting them?
Oh, I have several from when I was younger. There’s a “Francine” series I wrote between twelve and thirteen about a girl named Francine Galardy and her adventures. And there’s three or four YA horror novels I wrote when I was fifteen or sixteen or so. And then there’s Wednesday’s Child. It was my “masterpiece” when I was seventeen/eighteen, about a girl who runs away from home with a “bad boy”. Right now you can read it on MySpace, but I doubt I’d ever seriously publish it because it needs SO much work. Other than that I just have partial ones laying around, some of which I may get to one of these days.

7.      Is your painting self taught or did you take classes?
There was high school art class, but that was awhile back and we didn’t have computers in ‘them days’ (bad grammar intentional). Other than that I’m what you’d call self-taught.

8.      Have you ever considered writing a book on cover art techniques? As a moderate at best painter, I for one would love to read it.
I have a book about How to get a Cheap Book Cover, but it mostly covers things like finding and choosing images or fonts. I have some tutorials on image manipulation and one on painting in PSP, but they’re a bit dated at this point. I need to redo them some day.

9.      Of all your characters, who is your real favourite and why? What is his/her most endearing or frightening characteristics?
You can’t tell the characters, because they’d all be mad, but my favourite is Verchiel. He’s just so, so… bad! But he’s bad in a good way! Okay, really he’s a good guy. In fact, he’s always sparing people. Like in the short story Elsa (in the Vampire Morsels collection) anther vampire has attacked Elsa, drained her, let her bleeding out there on the ground and Verchiel pops along and randomly suggests turning her for no reason. Truth is he can’t stand to see people die unnecessarily. Though since he’s a big, tough Executioner I doubt he’d ever admit that. Also, he writes himself, which makes things easy on me.

10.  Do you think that self publishing is a real alternative to mainstream? If you were to be offered a contract for all your books, would you be prepared to give up all or most of the rights to your own work for its duration?
The only thing that would ever inspire me to give up all my rights is if they promised to handle ALL the promotions and advertising, because that’s the part I hate. It’s so time consuming. But, since most if not all publishers leave promotion up to the author, forget it. I want to own the rights to my own book.
As for it being a real alternative, I think it is an alternative, but at the same time, it’s a different animal. I know we’re not supposed to “think like that” – we’re supposed to say “my book is just as legitimate as one by Harper-Collins”, and while I do think this is true, there is still going to be a difference. For instance the kind of sales it takes for a publisher to say “This is a bestselling author!” are the kind of sales that .0001% of indie authors will attain. Meanwhile, what many indies call a “best seller” or a “successful” author fall into what the traditional world would have called midlist. And those of us on the next tier who are selling “okay” wouldn’t even register on the traditional publisher’s radar.
So many indies start out thinking their sales are going to be stellar and amazing by publishing house standards, and then they’re disappointed and disheartened. I think that perhaps if they went into it realistically, or maybe with the idea that it was “different” that they wouldn’t get have such impossible expectations.

I would like to thank Joleene for her time and urge you to read her series. She has a unique style and will have you hungry for more. 


  1. If anyone could ever get me to approve of vampires, it would be Joleene. She has... Power.

    I very much enjoyed this interview.

    signed: Myke

  2. Thanks so much for hosting me! It was a fun interview!

  3. I can tell you like Verchiel best he would be my favorite, but I already gave my heart to Jorick ;) One book a year is acceptable. I hate that self-pub authors feel pressure to produce quicker than that.

    1. I half admire the ones that do because I could never produce completed novels in less time that that.

    2. Thanks Sharon ;) Yeah, Jorick is sexier than Verchiel, I have to admit. Far more heroic.

      They actually recommend five books a year for self published authors. FIVE!?!?! Are they insane?!?! How could you have time to do proper editing and beta-ing and all that... it's nuts!

  4. Well thought out questions and answers and a really enjoyable interview.

    1. Thanks, Barbara - because you're next. Hope you've been doing some mental press-ups; or should that be presses-up?
      See, pedantic to the end, just like my wife accuses me of.

    2. Thanks Barbara! Roger gives a good interview ;)

  5. Fantastic interview, all! Really cool to read about Jo's design process. :) Particularly enjoyed reading Jo's thoughts on indie publishing.

  6. As did I. And beside all she does she still has time to help others.

  7. Loved the questions, and I learned so much more about Joleene. Joleene, loved the answers, and I'm off to tell Verchiel right now...

  8. Better not, you wouldn't like him when he's angry.